Because restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a problematic syndrome, demonstrating an association between use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)/serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and RLS may help direct patient care. The goals of this study were (1) to establish the incidence of RLS in mental health patients being treated with SSRIs or SNRIs in a local Veterans Affairs medical center and (2) to evaluate the frequency with which certain SSRIs or SNRIs are associated with RLS and the trend in frequency of the diagnosis since the revision of the criteria for RLS offered by the International Restless Leg Syndrome Study Group (IRLSSG), the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), and the International Classification of Sleep Disorders, Revised (ICSD-3).
A retrospective chart review was used to evaluate the number of patients receiving SSRI/SNRI therapy with and without a diagnosis of RLS, with the date of the RLS diagnosis and initiation of SSRI/SNRI therapy noted. The frequency with which certain SSRIs/SNRIs were associated with RLS, and the frequency of RLS diagnoses since January 2012 were also noted. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression were used for data analysis.
A total of 254 charts were reviewed. A majority of the patients (89.8%) were male, and 14 (5.5%) were diagnosed with RLS. A logistic regression equation approached significance in predicting RLS (P=0.053). Age and sex emerged as significant predictors of RLS. The prevalence of any individual SSRI or SNRI being associated with RLS was indeterminable. No difference was seen in the number of RLS diagnoses since the refining of the IRLSSG, DSM-5, and ICSD-3 criteria.
The use of SSRIs/SNRIs does not seem to be associated with a diagnosis of RLS. In addition, the diagnosis of RLS does not seem to have become more common since the revision of the diagnostic criteria for the disorder.